Lim hopeful he found the key to Takhi

Jason Lim said he had always had time for Takhi following his surprise debut win in February, but since that first bright spark, the US-bred has, however, remained a work in progress.

TAKHI winning the RESTRICTED MAIDEN Picture: Singapore Turf Club

The young Singaporean handler personally hand-picked the son of Bahamian Squall for US$23,500 at the Ocala Sales in Florida, reaping instant dividends at his first Kranji start in a Restricted Maiden race over 1200m on Polytrack.

That night, Lim was a little caught by surprise by Takhi's winning burst under his apprentice jockey Dennis Tan Zhi Xian, especially after he was outpaced and was struggling to keep up with the speed upfront.

He even admitted to having his eyes more trained on better-fancied stablemate Crystal Dragon in the race, but after being prominent early, the Jimmy Creed four-year-old faded to run last while 'second stringer' Takhi sailed down the outside towards a most unexpected first hurrah.

Unsurprisingly, that sterling performance set the benchmark for his next outings, but it turned out to be no recipe for future success.

Blinkers stayed on, the same drop-back tactics on the outside were adopted at his next three starts, the rationale being he was field-shy, but Takhi could not reproduce the same zest. Lim was even quizzed by stewards when Takhi squandered the advantage of gate one to settle at the rear before circling the field for a roundabout path that saw the gelding beating two home.

The costly lessons seem to have been learned. At his last start in a Class 4 race on September 5, the trip was risen to a mile and the shades were gone.

The tinkering nearly paid off. Takhi  followed a lot closer and tested eventual winner Leatherhead all the way to the line to run second. Lim is confident he is closer to finding the key, hoping Takhi's run in the $50,000 Class 4 race over 1600m will give him a few more clues.

"We may need to find out more about Takhi, but I get the feeling he may be a horse who will run a mile or above," said David Hill's former assistant-trainer.

"I used to run him in sprint races, but I think his first-up win over 1200m was also a sign he needs further.

"On that day, I thought my other newcomer Crystal Dragon was my better chance, but he ran last and Takhi flew home. Crystal Dragon actually went on to win at his next start.

"I think we got the right distance for Takhi now. He's also become more mature.

"He's always shown a certain keenness in his trackwork. I took the blinkers off at his last start and he wasn't so keen.

"He jumped well and landed behind Leatherhead who is a very good horse. He showed a good turn of foot."

Joseph See did the steering on that day, but Lim has handed the reins to a jockey with whom he has had a bit of luck lately. After an earlier strike (January 4) with You Qian Zhuan (entry in Group 1 Singapore Guineas next Saturday), John Sundradas rode two winners for him in that new post-COVID-19 season, Star Fiftytwo and Chicago Star.

Lim has set rather high hopes for Takhi this Saturday, and even beyond.

"He's drawn nicely in two. I think he's got a good chance this weekend," said the Australian-trained Lim, who sits right on the outskirts of the trainer's log's Top 10 on 13 winners.

"He's quite a progressive horse and without getting too ahead of myself, if he keeps going through his grades, I may look at a feature race for him when he is four years old next year.

"One race at a time, though, let's see how he goes this Saturday first."

Singapore Turf Club